Saving the Planet

10th May 2019

Every day we hear reports about how much damage is being done to the planet. Whether it’s plastic in the ocean, over-farming or our reliance on fossil fuels, it can seem like the future is dark. However, one unexpected industry is blazing forward in developing sustainable products – namely the textile industry.

By exploring new discoveries and technologies, or even returning to centuries old practices, the textiles of the future may play a role in helping save the world.

Most of us rely on cotton both to stitch with and stitch on, although unfortunately its production requires huge amounts of water and pesticides, so forward thinking organisations are exploring alternatives. One of these alternatives is hemp, and more and more big-name fashion companies are defying the questionable reputation of the base plant and adding hemp clothing to their lines. Hemp is an excellent textile fibre which dyes easily and rarely discolours, not to mention its temperature control capacity and the fact it is naturally anti-microbial.

Alternative fibres, like hemp, are barely distinguishable from more familiar textiles such as cotton or linen (source)

Lotus fibre and banana fibre have also been turned into textiles for centuries in countries like Thailand and Japan, both of which produce soft, silk-like fabric, that the western world is finally taking notice of and experimenting with the results.

Apparently, lotus fabric, as well as being butter-soft, can heal headaches or ease lung issues.

What more could you want? Beautiful fabrics which aren’t only good for the environment, but good for your health as well!

Coffee grounds have successfully been turned into fabric (source)

Other materials that have also been successfully converted into yarn and textiles, include kelp, stinging nettles and even coffee grounds. With the amount of coffee we drink nowadays, just imagine if all of those waste grounds could be reused to produce the thread we work with or the fabric we stitch on. Each time you buy your morning pick-me-up, you’ll be playing your part in a sustainable cycle, talk about a win-win!

While it’s unlikely we’ll ever stop wanting beautiful linen to stitch on, or gorgeous silks to stitch with, over time it seems likely that some of the alternatives out there will result in an equivalent, or even superior, material for embroiderers to work with. Caring for the planet is something we all have a role in, and these innovations mean we can do just that, one stitch at a time.

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